Ebola has “reached” the United States and Europe, and the world is paying attention to what is going on in Africa.
But are we concerned because of fear for ourselves and our loved ones? Or is our concern motivated by compassion?
Are any of the rest of you thinking about this? Granted, who or what you listen to will tell you whether or not to worry or not. And yet… if it’s not this, it’s something else. We live in an age where the media is constantly providing us with things we could worry over. And then everyone wants to know whose fault it is and what’s being done about it.
I just read this article on the BBC:
When Ebola first arrived in my country, we weren’t too worried. Then came “sensitisation” – all the community groups and NGOs running around talking about Ebola. But many refused to believe in the danger and even tried to make politics out of it. We had a riot in Kenema, under the banner of “Ebola is not real”.
Then, in early August, the situation changed. The government banned all movements in and out of Kenema and Kailahun districts. This hurt everyone, not just those with Ebola, as almost everything came to a standstill. We were trapped – and still are. My aunt, who used to go to the trade fair to buy local goods at low prices, could no longer travel.
Things got much worse still when Ebola came into our community. There was a pharmacist who got ill but said he was suffering from a septic ulcer, so he never went to the hospital. We believed him because he was a medical man and maybe because we didn’t know any better. Many people came in contact with him during his illness. When he died, his corpse was washed and prepared for burial by people in the community, as is our custom.
But when his death was reported to the hospital, it was found that he had died of Ebola. After about two weeks, several people who had come in contact with him and those who washed his corpse fell ill. Then 16 more people, including dear Aunty, became ill. Out of that number, only Marie and my aunt mercifully survived – or else I too would be an Ebola orphan. I guess I am the lucky one, but it is hard to see it like that.
Our community was quarantined from the rest of town and we were told that no one could leave or enter for 21 days. People who attempted to sneak out, in need of food, were forced by the guards to return. No one brought us food or water for the first two weeks of isolation. In the third week, a charity group brought bulgur, oil and beans. We refused to eat the bulgur though, because it gives you a runny tummy; and if you have a runny tummy and are in an isolation zone they will definitely say you have Ebola and may take you away. So we bought gari (granular flour) throughout the three weeks because that was all my poor aunt could afford – it costs just 500Le (15 pence) for a cup that can feed three people for a meal.
Even now, with all this, there is a problem with educating people about Ebola. I just met two of my friends who told me about the illness of their uncle and how they were taking care of him at home, which they should not be doing as their uncle might have the Ebola virus.
Over 100 children have been orphaned in my community alone. Who is going to take care of them? How will they survive or even go back to school? Fear always grips me when friends who I know don’t regularly wash their hands with chlorinated water want to play with me.
Thinking a little towards the future, how do I go back to school? Where will my aunt get money to support our education again? It is hard to depend on others. We want to depend on our own like we were learning to. Because of my aunt’s weakness and the difficulty of trading we have eaten the money there was in the business. We are suffering. If Ebola does not kill us, maybe hardship and hunger will get us down if no one helps us before Christmas.
Three of my friends have been impregnated already, and I am also under pressure to go after men in order to survive and to buy a dress for Christmas. This is what girls have to do in Sierra Leone when there is no money. It is not right, but it is normal. If this Ebola does not end soon, many more girls will get pregnant before schools reopen and that will be too bad for the future of children in this country.
Of course, those who get Ebola and their families suffer the worst. They are provoked and the stigma keeps them worried and isolated without help. They have no food to eat and even the properties that are burned down are not replaced. But everybody in Sierra Leone is suffering because of all the other things. There is no business, no money, no food, no schools. Who will help us out of this trouble?
This article “put a face” on it for me.
Do I really believe my life is in God’s hands?
Do I truly believe that eternity matters more than anything?
What is more important to me? How long my life on this earth lasts, or what I do with it while I’m here?
What answer would God give?
Am I concerned for myself and my family? Or am I thinking and praying for these multitudes half a world away who might not know my Savior? A Savior who defeated fear.
Few people can stare death in the face, knowing it is hovering nearby, and know that even should it come, fear is defeated forever. I think that, even among Christians, very few can do that.
The world needs more than just a few.
The world needs a multitude who demonstrate that security from fear comes in knowing the all-knowing and all-loving One, not in knowing that ABC and XYZ and everything in between is being contained and fixed and investigated.
Because only when fear is conquered can compassion become our driving force as it was for Jesus.
Will you join me in asking God to release and reveal this compassion… and this knowing that fear is defeated… among all those who seek Him? That the knowledge of Him might spread faster than Ebola?